succumbing to peer pressure

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"A time comes when silence is betrayal."

I read the other day about how not many of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s later speeches, the ones he gave after "I have a dream," are very well known or often repeated. This is because he became so outspoken against the war in Vietnam and the foreign policies of our government. Wouldn't really do for Bush to go around repeating or honoring those kinds of sentiments. But, thanks to Bob Harris, I am reminded of just how much we need to be honoring those thoughts (from a 1967 speech at New York's Riverside Church):
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice... The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world...
... At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

And Amelia links to Bob Herbert:
"Never since his assassination in 1968 have I felt the absence of Martin Luther King more acutely. Where are today's voices of moral outrage? Where is the leadership willing to stand up and say: Enough! We've sullied ourselves enough.

Indeed, where is our outrage? A time comes when silence is betrayal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are plenty of voices of outrage. They're just not prominent, and get shouted down by the vitriol that passes for discourse now.

--Despondent Sid

10:28 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I guess that's what I mean - where are the prominent voices? Dean and Jon Stewart are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head who ever seem to be vocal (and heard) about their righteous indignation.

7:29 PM  

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